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Let's develop county sports and raw talent

Kenya Police Karate team celebrates after winning in the Kumite category during the National Inter-County Karate championships held at Masinde Muliro University. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The new 47 county governments are already taking shape as governors form their administration teams, in the form of executive committee members and other office bearers. Kenyans are expectant and hope the new county leadership will deliver excellence in all sectors including sports.

Indeed, sports offer low-hanging fruit for any county government to pull their young people from hopelessness, despair and want. By engaging the youth constructively in say athletics, football, volleyball, basketball, rugby and such disciplines, they could turn around the fortunes of millions of youth.

Inter-county sports tournaments could unearth raw talents across the country in all disciplines. Besides forming a pool of talent for the national teams, well-organised competitions will lure back sponsors into sports and money will start flowing. Examples such as the Machakos Rugby Sevens, Nakuru Rugby Sevens and Nairobi Basketball Challenge could be replicated in each of the 47 counties.

Just a little innovation, dedication and committed sports CECs could make sports big affairs in the counties. There could be even water sports in counties such as Kirinyaga, Homa Bay and Kisumu. When counties hold these tournaments, local tourism and hospitality industries get an unprecedented boost and visibility.

Unfortunately, in most county governments, the sports docket is not taken seriously. Besides low budgetary allocation, individuals with no passion or knowledge about sports are rewarded with leadership positions. They then take to their jobs as a reward and put no meaningful input. This is the time to change this perception.

How about the county governments sponsoring the existing sports clubs participating in the premier leagues? There are ongoing leagues in football, volleyball and rugby, which county governments can adopt and support financially or technically.

This is besides the big money projects like building sports stadiums and other facilities. While no one can begrudge county governments that have initiated such stadiums, there are more affordable avenues to nurture sports talents in all counties. And that is where the impact could be felt more by the youth and sports enthusiasts.

In the last one decade, Kenya has experimented with devolution and while majority of the devolved units have accounted for their share of resources and time, some have performed dismally. The new county administrations now have an opportunity to start with the right foot.

The sports administrators should also reach out to the new county leadership and create synergies right from the word go. They should collaborate and work for development of local sports and the latent talents.